ALEXANDER YON HTJMBOLBT. 237 When they were already far away, the Gotopaxi sent a thundering adieu after them. We have already mentioned that Humbolclt found this crater, which had been dead since 1768, and had since then not even ejected smoke or a visible vapour, quite hot, and had by this news excited great depression and terror in the town of Quito. He had already departed, and was in the port of Guayaquil, distant fifty-two miles in a straight line from the mountain, when he heard, the roaring of the Cotopaxi, like a cannonading1, night and day, and was even pursued by this fearful noise of the crater near which he had lately been, as far as the south sea, south-west of the island de la Puna. He afterwards heard that the subterranean fire in this mountain had been so violently developed, in a single iiightj that the thick snow covering., 533 toises in breadth, had suddenly disappeared, and that at sun- rise the usually snowy portion of this immense peak was covered with glazed lava, which towered threaten- ingly over the terrified population of the district. VEGETABLE LIFE. The carpet which a fertile flora spreads over the naked surface of the earth is unequally woven; it is closer where the sun rises higher in the never-clouded sky, and looser towards the sluggish poles, where the returning frost nips the budding blossom or the ripen- ing fruit. But the plants necessary for the food of man are found everywhere. If a volcano divides the boiling tide at the bottom of the sea, and suddenly projects a lava rock, the peaceful lithophytes bxiild their cellular dwellings upon it, and after thousands of years they raise it to the surface of the sea, die, and leave a flat coral reef. The organic forces are now immediately at hand to vivify the dead rock. Whether migratory birds, or^winds, or waves of the sea suddenly bring the seeds, is diffi- cult to ascertain, from the great distance of the coast.